May 22nd, 2006


News from IUAC Delhi

Landed in Delhi yesterday - I will be at the Inter-University Accelerator Centre for a few days.

This is the first time I had a chance to visit a government research lab - and I am thrilled by it. It's about midnight now and I am sitting in Ajith's lab and doing the only thing we `software engineers' are good at - downloading and installing stuff! Anyway, I feel transported back to my college days when we used to enjoy working in the lab late at night!

I have only a very vague idea of what the scientists here do - even though Ajith explained a few things to me. There is an `accelerator' here (a giant tower inside which they have some sulfur hexaflouride filled tubes) used for conducting Physics experiments - it is controlled by code running on embedded Linux systems. Every lab is filled with complex-looking equipments - it's really a geek's paradise!

I am thinking of the great depth and breadth of knowledge required to work effectively in an environment like this, and saddened by the fact that some of our brightest students are missing this experience by chosing something as superflous as `software engineering' for their career.

Ajith is doing a redesign of Phoenix - based on the Atmega16 microcontroller. The newer version is going to be much cheaper and smaller - and we hope that we would be able to market it more effectively. There is a Phoenix workshop going on currently for University Physics teachers - I had a chance to teach them a bit of Python. The response was overall positive, but we have to wait one or two days to see whether people are able to code on their own ...